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Recommended Principles of Authorship


A salient fact about authorship is that markedly different traditions of joint authorship exist among different disciplines. Given these variances, specific and universal rules cannot apply. However, a set of general principles may serve as a guide for authorship inclusion across UC Merced.

Authorship should be restricted to those individuals who have met each of the following three criteria: 1) made a significant contribution to the conception and design of the project, or the analysis and interpretation of the data, or other substantial scholarly effort; 2) participated in drafting, reviewing and/or revising the work; and 3) approved the final version for publication.

Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take full responsibility for his or her contributions to the content.

As a practical matter, with multi-authored publications it is usually important to designate or acknowledge one individual as the Lead Author, who takes responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole. This Lead Author often also serves as the corresponding author.

The Lead Author has responsibility for 1) including as co-authors all those who meet the three criteria defined above; and 2) obtaining from all co- authors their agreement to be designated as such.

The order of authorship should be a joint decision of the co-authors. If a decision cannot be reached, the Lead Author should have final say.

Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of a research group does not justify authorship unless the individual also fulfills the above three criteria.

Anyone who does not meet the above authorship criteria but who has made other substantial contributions (such as technical help, writing assistance, etc.) should be acknowledged in the final product.

Honorary or courtesy authorships are inconsistent with the principles of this policy and, as such, are unacceptable.


Disputes over authorship are best resolved at the local level by the researchers themselves or in consultation with the laboratory chief, chair or head of department(s), or dean, as appropriate. Guidance might also be provided by relevant academic organizations and/or grant/fellowship agencies and institutions. As a last step, the Academic Personnel Office may form on an ad hoc basis an authorship dispute board to adjudicate disputes between faculty, post-docs, and/or graduate students.